Pick A Winner
BRUINS HEADED TO CUP FINALS
In the end, Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask will be the difference-maker in this series. He has played well in the first two rounds and has been consistent throughout the playoffs with a 2.22 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage in 12 postseason games.
On paper, Penguins goalie Tomas Vokoun has been impressive this spring, posting a 6-1-1 record with a 1.85 GAA and a .941 save percentage. But he hasn't faced the type of offense the Bruins have the ability to produce.
Defensively, I believe the Bruins will slow down Pittsburgh's top two lines, which will allow Rask to see the puck cleanly. Boston also will rely on its depth and coach Claude Julien will be able to roll all four lines against the Penguins.
There are also too many motivational factors for the Bruins in this series.
Even though the players would never say it publicly, Boston wants to prove to the Penguins' Jarome Iginla that he chose the wrong team at the trade deadline. Plus, current Bruin and future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr would like nothing more than to beat his former team en route to the Cup finals. You can even add the Penguins' Matt Cooke to the mix. He basically ended the career of Marc Savard with a vicious hit to the head in March 2010.
This will be an exciting series for hockey fans, but in the end it will be the Bruins with the victory and a chance to hoist their second Cup in three seasons.
Joe McDonald covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.
PENGUINS WILL WIN TIGHT SERIES
Let me say this right now, this series appears so even to me. I really do think it could go either way, but if I have to make a prediction, I'm picking the Pittsburgh Penguins to advance to the finals in seven games (and how about OT in Game 7). That's how close this series will be.
But this series will most likely be won in the neutral zone, and while the Bruins have improved their play there with the sudden emergence of Torey Krug, the Penguins have the edge with their speed and Norris Trophy finalist Kris Letang. Letang moves the puck better than any defenseman left in the playoffs right now. Krug has been amazing and promises to have a bright future, but expect some struggles against the Penguins' forechecking forwards, who will put more pressure on him than the Rangers did. This series will be a big test for the rookie sensation and at this point, he might not be ready to pass it.
But while the Penguins have the star power and more skill, the Bruins aren't too far behind and that's why this promises to be a classic series. When all is said and done, it will be Sidney Crosby scoring another memorable OT winner to go with his golden goal that brought Canada gold in 2010. This time it will clinch his team a ticket to the Stanley Cup finals.
James Murphy covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.